by Donato

Once in a while I love to pull myself out of the studio and enjoy attending a cultural event in New York City.  It is one of the main reasons why I live here.  Back when I was looking to advance my non-existent art career right after college, I had two choices:

1.  To stay in Vermont where I had free rent (the parents home), low cost living,  a girl friend, and job security in a company I had worked for the past five years.  Good near term prospects, but not much for developing an art career.

2.  Move to New York City where I had to pay rent, high cost of living, had no job prospects, no family, and no girlfriend.

In less than a heart beat I moved to New York.

Seriously, it wasn’t even a close call.  Nothing could stop me from moving to New York, not even getting my right eye shot and permanently damaged with a paintball two weeks before the move – true story.  New York was and is the center of Art through publishing, advertising, comics, museums, galleries, studios, art supply companies, painters and also mafia, crack, corruption, crime, homelessness, graffiti (art!) and worries to keep my parents up at night.  Not only was it me moving to New York, but my younger brother Dave also took the plunge at the same time.  2/3 of our family’s genetic heritage (there are three brothers) was now walking the streets of New York at who knows what hours!

I wanted to be in the center of it all for my art and career, where ever that may have taken me.  I have been lucky that I found a home here and have not moved from the city since I landed in the Fall of 1992.  Part of being in a large artist community like New York is reaping the benefits of social collectives, and this past week has offered up a few wonderful opportunities.  Artist Marc Scheff hosted an artist’s party at his lovely home Saturday night in honor of a visiting friend, Kristina Carroll.  Kristina was my assistant for five plus years, a hard worker, wonderful artist, and beautiful person, it was a pleasure to see her again at the party, hanging with a bunch of talented people.

Donato in front of the Desiderio

Another inspiring event involved heading into Manhattan for the opening of The BIG Picture, an exhibition of large scale works by some of the heaviest hitters in the fine art world of Figurative Arts.  Leading off the round up is my mentor and friend, Vincent Desiderio, showcasing a work nearly thirty feet in length.  You gotta paint bigger Vince!  Other works shown were by Jenny Saville, Eric Fischl, Mark Tansey and Neo Rauch.

I was joined in the celebration by a good friend Mark Ross, visiting in from Dallas.  Mark is in town working as a Matte Painter for some Superbowl Advertising due, you guessed it, by this weekend.  I met Mark at Syracuse University where we hung out around the studios together. He was one of the trail blazers who set up an apartment in Brooklyn back after graduation.  It was in part because of Mark that I found my way into Brooklyn and have stayed ever since.

Mark and Mark

A major bonus for the opening night was that Mark Tansey was in attendance.  Mark meet Mark.  My friend Mark Ross finally got to meet and chat with the man who has inspired him for decades!  Needless to say it was an unforgettable evening, wrapping it up with dinner with Mark Ross at the most excellent Lombardi’s Pizza on Spring Street near SOHO.  It brought back many memories of when I would hang with  Tony Diterlizzi, Steve Ellis and a few other friends at that place as we wound down the night after an evening of figure drawing at Spring Street Studio just a few blocks away.

My point here is not to glorify New York, but to speak to the ways we can feel inspired and connected to our communities, whether they be a small gathering of friends or at a public sharing of art at a cafe, gallery or museum.  Get out there, converse with your peers and nurture your passions!

The Big Picture
Wilkinson Gallery
New York Academy of Art
111 Franklin Street
New York, NY 10013
January 28 – March 2, 2014
On view daily 2 – 8 pm, or by appointment
Closed Wednesdays & holidays

Donato and Mark at Lombardi’s Pizza
Donato and Vincent Desiderio